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Russell Wilson, Seahawks have Super Bowl expectations

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Seahawks relying on their young core (0:17)

Trey Wingo looks ahead to the Seahawks' season including the need to protect Russell Wilson in order to be a contender in the NFC. (0:17)

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SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Last Season: 10-6

Second place, NFC West, lost in divisional round

Preseason power ranking: 1

Quarterback Russell Wilson is coming off a career year in which he led the NFL in passer rating, and Seattle’s defense returns nine of 11 starters from a unit that allowed the fewest points in the NFL for the fourth straight season. The Seahawks have maintained continuity on their coaching staff and avoided contract distractions this summer for the first time in three years. They have made the playoffs four years in a row, and all the pieces are in place for them to get back once again in 2016.

It would take a significant injury to Wilson. The fifth-year quarterback has not missed a game or even a practice in his career. Right now, his backup is undrafted free agent Trevone Boykin. The Seahawks will be in trouble if Wilson misses a significant period of time. Injuries to cornerback Richard Sherman or safety Earl Thomas – both of whom have never missed a game -- would also be difficult to overcome.

Seahawks’ percentage chance to win each game

Sept. 11 vs. Miami: 79.9

Sept. 18 @ Los Angeles: 57.9

Sept. 25 vs. San Francisco: 82.9

Oct. 2 @ NY Jets: 51.4

Oct. 16 vs. Atlanta: 80.4

Oct. 23 @ Arizona: 43.5

Oct. 30 @ New Orleans: 55.7

Nov. 7 vs. Buffalo: 72.6

Nov. 13 @ New England: 30.0

Nov. 20 vs. Philadelphia: 80.0

Nov. 27 @ Tampa Bay: 55.6

Dec. 4 vs. Carolina: 63.0

Dec. 11 @ Green Bay: 40.9

Dec. 15 vs. Los Angeles 74.0

Dec. 24 vs. Arizona: 63.8

Jan. 1 @ San Francisco: 64.1

Sheil Kapadia’s game-by-game predictions

Russell Wilson is always underrated, but his 2015 passer rating was 132.8 over the final seven -- largely without Jimmy Graham and Marshawn Lynch. If Tarvaris Jackson were still the backup instead of Trevone Boykin, Seattle might rank even higher. -- Dan Graziano

Defensive end Frank Clark. The Seahawks had a very good pass rush last year -- Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril combining for 19 sacks. But if Clark can make the leap in his second season, this group could be really special. Clark flashed as a rookie, and he will get more opportunities to rush the passer. He’ll primarily line up at right defensive end, but he could be moved around the formation by defensive coordinator Kris Richard.

Thomas Rawls. The buzz around Christine Michael this summer has been warranted, but Rawls is still going to be this team’s lead running back. He was fantastic as a rookie, leading the NFL in yards per carry and average yards after contact. Rawls started seven games last year and had 830 yards. Coach Pete Carroll wants this to be a run-first offense, and Rawls is in line for a big workload.

This season will come down to the Seahawks’ biggest unknown: the offensive line. Seattle will go with at least three new starters, and Justin Britt, who played left guard last year, is moving to center. No team in the league has less money committed to the offensive line in 2016 than the Seahawks. If this group can be competent, the Seahawks are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. If not, this season will end in disappointment.